Photo: Bonescreen

Bonescreen: For bone health

Bonescreen’s radiology software focuses on a widespread but little-noticed disease: osteoporosis. Using AI-supported medical image analysis, the aim is to detect and treat bone loss at an early stage in a fully automated process. One of the founders talks about the benefits of a diverse team, the challenges of certification and the vision of ageing with dignity.

Munich Startup: What does Bonescreen do? What problem do you solve?

Dominik Maurer, Bonescreen: Asthe name Bonescreen suggests, we are all about bones and bone health. Our focus here is particularly on the early detection of the widespread disease osteoporosis, which is unfortunately either diagnosed too late or often not at all in this country.

For the approximately six million people affected in Germany, this means an increasing risk of fractures every year. Especially in old age, however, such fractures significantly impair quality of life. On average, one in three women and one in five men in Europe will suffer an osteoporotic fracture once in their lifetime.

With our first product, SpineQ, we have developed radiology software that automatically analyzes almost every CT scan performed in a clinical setting for osteoporosis, thus providing doctors with additional diagnostic information. If SpineQ identifies low bone density or an increased future risk, doctors can either initiate further analyses or prescribe preventive measures directly.

Bonescreen provides research-based evidence

Munich Startup: But that already exists!

Dominik Maurer, Bonescreen: Almost. The market for AI-supported medical image analysis is large, that’s true. But osteoporosis itself is still stuck in a niche. We want to change that. We are encouraged by the growing awareness in Scandinavian countries, which we still lack somewhat in Germany. Many startups have also decided to focus on X-ray or magnetic resonance examinations instead of CT scans.

As a result, the two main competitors in our field are American companies that cannot compete with the technology we have developed. However, this also applies to some young companies that are slowly venturing into the field, because: What many startups in this field lack is the clinical and research-based evidence that we at Bonescreen have based on more than 20 years of research. This gives us the security and staying power that is necessary in the medical technology sector.

Munich Startup: What’s your founding story?

Dominik Maurer, Bonescreen: Bonescreen was founded in February 2022, and since then our founding team has grown from two co-founders in the beginning to six now. Most of the team know each other from their time together at the Technical University of Munich. One of our founders is a professor of radiology here. Four of the six co-founders started or completed their doctorates here, while the last member of the team brought economic and financial expertise from outside. Furthermore, we not only combine the interdisciplinary due to our diverse backgrounds in radiology, software development and finance, but also provide a diverse team on an intercultural level: our team comes from Germany, Jordan, India, Ghana and soon also from Egypt.

Certification as the biggest hurdle

Munich Startup: What have been your biggest challenges so far?

Dominik Maurer, Bonescreen: Even though you might think that with a team of six founders, it’s all about finding a consensus, this works surprisingly well for us. When it comes to strategy and vision, we all share the same ambitions.

However, the biggest challenge by far was to secure the capital so that a large part of the team could throw themselves into the Bonescreen adventure full-time and also feel financially secure. We have been able to do this since May 2023 with the co-investment of 1.5 million euros from EIT Health. Now we need to position Bonescreen for the future. The biggest hurdle here is CE certification, which is so important for medical technology products and software. Commercialization is largely impossible without it, which is why we are working on it together, which takes a lot of time.

Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, and in five years?

Dominik Maurer, Bonescreen: Like every startup, we have a lot planned for the next twelve months! To put it in three words: CE certification, financing and commercialization.

The medical technology sector is highly regulated for good reason and anyone wishing to sell a product or software must have it certified by government-appointed bodies. We want to have reached this milestone by the end of the year so that we can then distribute our product commercially. In order to set the course for product expansion now, we want to hire two to three employees with additional capital and secure liquidity until the end of 2025. We are currently planning an angel round. In the next five years, we want to be THE test that doctors across DACH use to diagnose osteoporosis in most patients at an early stage.  We see this as our contribution to enabling as many people as possible to age with dignity.

“Firmly rooted in Munich”

Munich Startup: How have you experienced Munich as a startup location so far?

Dominik Maurer, Bonescreen: We have been in Munich for a long time and are firmly rooted here. Our entire founding team has either lived or studied here and appreciates the location. It has never been easier for us to make a decision. The access to well-trained, motivated professionals with a shared love of outdoor leisure activities and our local network in the radiology scene naturally made the decision that much easier. It was also easy to find quick access to office space. At the moment, for example, we are based in Werk1 and feel right at home there.

Munich Startup: Outsource or do it yourself?

Dominik Maurer, Bonescreen: Technology? Clearly: do it yourself, always! For everything else, at least in the beginning, it means: do it yourself. Because if you outsource everything right from the start, it will be difficult to estimate how much time things really take and you will most likely pay for services that are not necessary. That’s a luxury we can’t afford as a startup (and wouldn’t want if we could).